Hey Folks! Man its great to be here talking to some of my new closest friends haha!
My Name is Nathan and I purchased a model t speedster that was on ebay a week or so ago and will be traveling down to FL from NC Tuesday to go get it! I am really excited to have my first REAL old car. I have grown up in and around antique cars all my life and have been a member of AACA for quite some time. I am also a realitivly new member of HCCA and cant wait to tour with them. I am unfamiliar with T model groups/acronyms so any you feel like i should know, please throw them my way!
now, the question,
I am converting my model t to 12v for may reasons. I do plan on touring the mess out of this car so I want excellent headlights, brake lights, turn signals, ignition ect. I am somewhat aware of what i need for a 12v conversion. I am also changing things over to a distributor. I already have a distributor made by bosh but im not sure if it is 6 or 12 volt. Can a distributor really know the difference? I have heard that I also will need a 12v starter. I have also heard however that if my 6v starter is in good condition it will work fine. Any suggestions either way? I understand that there is no way getting around not having a 12v alternator and that is fine but where should I get one? Also, while we are on the topic of ignition, what are some good modern spark plugs for the T?
Thanks for all of yalls help in advance. Ill be sure to add pictures as things progress!
I have always driven with 12 volts. You don't need it:
You will need a voltage regu from www.funprojects.com .
6v halogens are available.
Before you spend any money or do something irreversible, please use the keyword search.
You probably won't be happy with modern sparkplugs unless you put in a thermostat. See that recent thread.
Enjoy your new car.
Congratulations on your first T.
If you must convert to 12 volt,
Do not run a 6 volt starter with 12 volts. You will destroy the Bendix drive, break springs and possibly knock teeth off the fly wheel ring. Bendix drives are hard to fine, reproductions are in short supply. So get a 12 volt starter from Larry Becker. He advertises in the Vintage ford. There are 12 volt generators available, See R J Restorations on the Vendor List. For the distributor you just need a 12 v coil and condenser. The secret to a good working 6 volt system is heavy gauge cables and good clean connections.
Starting with your distributor. The ignition coil is different for 6 volts or 12 volts. So you will first need to know what voltage the ignition coil is made to operate. Most of the recent coils are 12 volts, but those made before the mid 1950's were almost all 6 volts. But if that distributor was made recently for a Model T, it could have either kind of coil. If you know the manufacturer or the vendor who sold the coil, they will be able to answer that question. Also, remember that your part is different than the other cars on tour, so you need to know the part numbers for points, condensers, coils etc. so that you will be able to replace them if you have a problem.
As for the generator, a 6 volt generator will charge a 12 volt battery, but at lower amps than it would the 6 volt battery. The starter will work with 12 volts, but the gear will hit the ring very hard with possibility of damage. I think that a 6 volt battery with the brake lever forward would do more damage to the starter than a 12 volt battery, however the 12 volt battery with the brake on would very likely bend the starter shaft, break the bendix spring or some other damage if it hit only once with the brake on. The 12 volt starter is wound differently than the 6 volt so that it doesn't hit quite as hard.
Drawbacks, the 12 volt battery won't hold a charge as well as a 6 volt battery and is easier to discharge.
The lights will be just as good with 6 volts as with 12 volts if you use the proper bulbs.
Some vendors sell alternator conversions. We had one on the recent California Dreamin' tour that the gear broke off the alternator shaft. The owner ended up cutting a small piece of plywood and bolting it over the hole where the generator fit so he could continue on the tour and then every night when he got in, he connected it to a battery charger. The problem was not with the alternator, but with the method in which the gear was attached. The alternator shaft had two flat sides and if the gear had been manufactured to fit that shaft, it would not have come off, but the hole in the gear was round and only a rolled pin held it on. The owner went to the auto parts store and bought a new rolled pin, but it sheared off too.
Any time you "improve" on Henry's invention you run the risk disappointment. So beware what you add to the car. Be sure it is properly manufactured.
Welcome to the Model T hobby. Congratulations on your purchase. Don't be in too much of a hurry. Experience her first before making alot of changes. Get some books and read about it.
I have owned a 1926 Model T for 42 years and have kept it all original and it runs great! Best of all, it gives me the same experience my Grandpa experienced when he drove a Model T as a young man in the teens and 20's. I love the way the four spark coils talk to me in four distinctive buzzing pitches as I am hand cranking her and could never imagine silencing her unique voice.
Many here may cheer you on but, as for me, everything you are planning on doing to your Model T, I am against, but it's your car. Enjoy. Jim Patrick
I was just a "mouse" in the corner one day listening to two old time T guys. One was saying how he had an "A" crank, 12 volts, distributor, a warford transmission and some kind of carb off a modern lawn tractor. The other guy replied, "Too bad you don't have a Model T anymore!!!"
That being said, to each his own!
okay... point taken. is there any way to run 12v accessories (GPS and such) with a 6v battery? If it makes it any better, this car doesnt have any of the original ignition system anymore except the spark plug wires haha
Congratulations on the new T. Being pretty much in the traditionalist camp like Jim, I would urge you to do as Ralph suggests and use the keyword search to read previous discussions on this before you plunge into a lot of alterations. I won't tell you not to do it, but I will tell you it's not necessary. In fact, there are T guys with a lot of experience who say that some of the most common "improvements" are often just the opposite.
Whatever you decide to do, I'll give you the same pitch everybody gets from me. The first Model T parts every new owner should buy are these:
The Ford manual and the MTFCA books will save you grief, hassle, and dough.
Here's my take on this.
A stock T will do just fine at 6 volts if all the wire is in good shape. I kept mine at 6 volts and have never had an issue with anything electrical.
The headlights won't be any brighter at 12 volts than at 6, unless you plan to swap the headlight connectors over to use different style bulbs. I've done a bit of night driving and I feel that at 40 mph the original headlights at 6 volts are plenty bright.
As for 12 volts, you still can use the original starter. However, there is no telling what its longevity will be. Sometimes they work forever with no issues, other times they'll work a few times before burning up or breaking something. Unless you get a starter rewound for 12 volts, hold your breath every time you hit that starter button! Also, running a solenoid to the starter rather than the original starter switch is crucial at 12 volts.
For the ignition system, the distributor doesn't care if the voltage is either 6 or 12 volts. However, the coil does care. As they are inexpensive, I would suggest purchasing a new one from any auto parts store.
As for spark plugs, I would recommend the Motorcraft if you're looking for something inexpensive. I run the Autolite 3095s, but I found that they leak around the porcelain! If you want something more period go with the Champion 25s. I find that they are of better quality than the Motorcrafts and they work great. If you want to be completely correct, then the Champion X is the way to go. They are very expensive, and they are actually rather poorly-designed spark plugs compared to modern plugs. I find that it's hard to adjust the gap on them, and they tend to wear out the electrodes. I will advise against the 14mm adapters, as they create more opportunities to leak, and they put the plugs further away from the combustion chamber.
My T has a 12v battery and the bendix was hitting hard until I installed about 18' of #8 stranded wire between the start switch and the starter. It now starts gently with no slamming.
I like to hear when someone is changing from 6 volt to 12 volts because I sell Bendixes and bendix springs. Keep me in mind because it not if you are going to destroy your bendix but when.
Champion X plugs are expensive if you buy them new (about $20 each at O'Reilly). If you keep your eyes open at swap meets and auctions you can often find them for $5 or less. I use these and have had no trouble with them.
I forgot to add that I don't feel that there's anything wrong with 12 volts, I just feel that most people do it for the wrong reason. They blame their poorly performing headlights and starter, and in some cases ignition, on a 6-volt electrical system when, in reality, it's just a symptom of a poorly-done or old frail electrical system. If the electrical system is properly done and in good shape, a 6-volt T will work just as well as a 12-volt T.
Of course it's your T so you can do whatever you want with it. I certainly won't criticize you for converting to 12 volts!
Our Speedster has been operated on 12 volts since the 1970's and no issues. Good points are: you can get a jump start, you can get light bulbs at a drug store at ten o'clock at night. 12 volt parts are cheape as are the batteries. most chargers run at 12 volts. You can run accessories like a cell phone, GPS, 110 v.a.c. inverters and other such stuff. Things not in favor for a Speedster, . . . . none come to mind ;~)
Caution Model T's are addictive and they multiply.
Sometimes another T just follows your's home.
I tell people that a model T is not an antique car -
Then after they look at me like I'm crazy I tell them it is a horseless carriage, a Model A drives like an old car but a T is different.
Old folks understand - young ones need a driving lesson!
There is nothing wrong with using that funny bent thing that sticks out the front of the car to get it started.
It is the only thing I use because I don't have one of those modern electric motors.
I use a battery to help the initial spark and switch to the mag once it is running.
It is a standard 12 v automotive battery because that is what I have available but you can use something as simple as a lantern or ride toy battery.
PS Make sure the rear end babbit thrust bearing have been replaced!!
There are a lot of excuses to justify conversion to 12V but not one solid good reason that I am aware of. GPS and cell phones typically run on batteries that are less than 6V. Take a peek in the battery compartment of the "12V" device you are trying to use on your 6V Model T and you might be surprised to find out that the battery in there is a 3.3V or something near that.
Good luck with your new T. Not sure why you want a T since after you get done with all your modernization you may have wished you had left it alone. There really is not a more debugged car on the planet than a model T. Every problem they have or had is pretty well known and documented. Most of today's problems are installed by means of things designed to modernize the T and make it more reliable. That is in fact a matter of record on some tours where records were kept. In the end it is your car and whatever floats your boat is OK by me and you are most welcome here.
Nathan, welcome to the Model T world.
Many in our local T group are running 12v batteries into 6 volt starters and distributor ignition. They like to say they start easier. I love to start my car with just a touch of the starter and the engine bursting to life. Then I smile and say "Six volts, buzz coils".
I had no trouble getting a six volt battery. If you are worried about lamps, buy some spare 6 volt lamps and carry them with you. Don't bother with halogen. Just how far down the road do you need to see when traveling at 35mph? As for turn and brake lights, 6volt LED lamps are available and will outlast any 12volt incandescent one you can buy. Save all the conversion money and put it towards disc brakes. That is a modernization I highly recommend.
My 2 cents
From an old gerrie who has been involved with old cars and old trucks since the early 60's and purchasing my first Model T on the 25th May 1964,the replies are all relevent,but the best came from Jo Van Evera. Well said Jo.
Also as said,They multiply with the ultimate aim is to have a barn find stock original Model "T"
Ok, here's my take on it. My car had been (Mickey Mouse) converted to 12V when I got it. Whoever did it had already fried the generator and the Bendix drive in the starter was broken. I broke 2 more aftermarket Bendix drives, and then just decided to finish the conversion right. I bought a genuine 12V starter and an alternator from Langs (I think) and also added a ground wire from the engine to the frame.
My lights are good enough that when I turn on my high beams oncoming cars dim their lights. I have an outlet for my GPS and even my lap top if I break down and have to find a part or a tow truck quick. It's your car build it the way you want. There's no such thing as an 'original' Speedster anyway.
I could not agree with John more.
As others point out slow the process down for now. Drive it. You'll know what it needs and resist fixing what's working.
Almost any thing you do to a T that deviates from the original design will compromise the integrity of the design and have consequence. Blowback!
Nathan,I don't know anything about this, but thought it might be something you could look into.
The EZ612 can convert your 6v or 8v battery output to 12volts to power your GPS, cell phone and other modern low power devices.
It's easy to hook it up:
Find a place to mount it in your car using the 2 velcro strips.
Run two wires from your 6v or 8v power to the + - terminals on the EZ612
When wired correctly both the green and ﻿﻿blue lights will come on.
The green light indicates that the positive and negative wires are connected to the correct terminals.
The blue light indicates that the fuse is good and you have 12v output.
The fuse installed in the EZ612 is a 1.5 amp.
NEVER INSTALL A FUSE RATED AT MORE THAN 1.5AMPS. DOING SO MAY LEAD TO OVERHEATING AND DAMAGE TO THE UNIT.
REMEMBER: The EZ612 is designed for use with modern electronic equipment.﻿
To place your order
email Kim Doty. firstname.lastname@example.org﻿
You forgot to add a picture and your location to your profile.
I thought of upgrading to 12volts too, but decided my speedster has been good for 20 years and I would rather order a good set of brakes.
Hello Nathan, and welcome to the Model T world and to this Forum.
The reasons you gave for converting to 12 volts are things that work fine on 6 volts. I have a Model T roadster pickup which runs original wood ignition coils from the internal magneto. The only modern add-on was that the previous owner installed a turn signal system. It's a hoot to drive and it's a head-turner too. With proper sized cables and a starter in good condition it cranks over beautifully on 6 volts.
For starting purposes you need a fresh battery, proper size cables and a starter in good condition.
For ignition, you need every piece of the Model T's original ignition system to be in tip-top shape, and this is where the troubles comes:
-The dash ignition switch and it's wiring must all be in good working condition
-The internal magneto has to be in good working condition
-The timer must be a quality made timer and the wiring harness in good condition
-The coilbox should be rebuilt to remove the possibility of electrical shorts
-The four ignition coils must be rebuilt by installing a new capacitor and have PROPERLY adjusted contacts
-The timing cover plate on the front of the engine must be mounted dead-center around the camshaft
-Lastly, a good set of Champion X sparkplugs and good plug wires
Then you need a good clean fuel tank and carburetor.
After all of this work, then you have a chance at a good running Model T.
This is where some give up and just install a distributor system - not everyone has access to, or knows someone with, a handcranked coil tester which is specifically used for PROPERLY adjusting Model T ignition coils. After doing all of the other work on the original ignition system, if the coils aren't working properly it's all been a waste of time. Installing a distributor only requires an external ignition coil and a battery connection.
I also have a Model T racer that is converted to 12 volts. When I bought it, it had a TrueFire ignition system in it. Because it's a racer, the builder removed all unnecessary weighty items such as the magnets and coilring portions of the magneto system to keep the car as light as possible (read FAST). The TrueFire system was probably installed along the way by someone who was wanting more performance over just running the coils on 6 bolts. Does it? I dunno, but the car runs at 60 mph! I will be removing the TrueFire box and installing an E-Timer from Mike Kossor, and then go back to using wood coils. I won't gain any more speed, but I will gain more pulling power.
So I bought the racer a few years ago, tore out all of the old, frayed wiring and re-wired it. It was already set up as a 12 volt system. At 12 volts, your generator can only supply a tiny bit more than 8 amps. My headlights alone drew 4 amps of that allowable 8 amps so that didn't leave much power left (I like to be seen by other drivers so I drive with the lights on). When I did the wiring job I decided to use LED lights all around, including the headlights. With every light on the current draw is about 1 amp now. I had planned on installing one of those SecretAudio sound systems but haven't got around to it yet. There's nothing much better than cruising around while listening to the Eagles!
Getting back to your question about what's involved in converting to 12 volts, it's pretty simple. Just install a 12 volt battery, and then replace the generator cutout to a unit meant for operation at 12 volts. You could also install a modern voltage regulator instead of the cutout. They look the same but the operation is quite different. A solid-state regulator will only work the generator when the battery needs charging. It will also shut down the generator if it senses an open circuit between the battery and the generator - this is a bad condition that WILL kill a generator under normal conditions. So change the battery, the cutout, install 12 volt bulbs and then adjust the charge rate and you're done!
Alternators and halogen bulbs are probably overkill but they also probably sell good too!
Before you go spending bags of money on perceived upgrades, maybe take the time to really get familiar with your speedster and then decide.
You listen to the Eagles on the eight track in a Gremlin. In a T you should be listening to Paul Whiteman or the Coon Sanders Nighthawks.
Steve... On a crank up, Victor III, with outside oak speartip horn. Jim Patrick
Nathan, I can't comment on the rest except I personally don't like the idea of a distributor. My T was switched to 12 v when I got it. I am new (a couple of years) to Model T's and have to ask a lot of questions. I can say that the 12v Halogen lights are great. I live in Northern NY(way up) and I come home in the dark a lot. My biggest concern is Deer. With the Halogen lamp conversion, I can see further ahead so if I have to stop or slow down, I have a chance at doing so. As we all know, stopping fast is not one of the T's better traits!!! Just my opinion!!!....Chip
I am a newbie too. When I first got my T about a year ago it had not been running for about 8 years. So for the first month or so it was hard to start and keep running. I was certain I needed to go to 12 volts so it would spin faster and run better. But as I got the bugs out of it I realized that if it is running properly 6 volts is just fine. I see no reason to go to 12. What my real problem was were things like bad ground, dirty carb and fuel tank, bad timing, etc.
Think of the millions upon millions of American cars made with 6V up until the mid 1950's. If there was an inherent fault with 6V, you can bet it wouldn't have lasted 50 odd years.
It was the increased current consumption of later cars with air conditioners, power this and power that which killed off 6V, mainly because the generator brushes were operating at their limit.
The Model T draws extremely low current in comparison. The problem with the headlights is not 6V, (consider a Luxeon LED operating at about 4V can damage your eyesight). It's that the optics are rather inefficient.
A 6 volt starter can be converted to 12 volts fairly easily by rewiring the field coils to a series configuration. Not difficult but you would need a good size soldering iron. I will try to find the article I have on it and pass it along tomorrow.
Don't convert it! Replace all your wiring, make sure you have a good starter and starter switch, and you'll be glad you didn't convert. Of course, a top of the line 6 volt battery is needed too.
My gosh, My T starts on 1/4 to 1/2 revolutions when cold. How fast do you need to turn it that far?
Nice speedster, took a guess and located this on eBay completed auctions.
I like the look and you will have fun regardless of 6v or 12v. Years ago did a speedster w/o starter, so 12v was fine for the original coils and headlamps converted to 12v. And, distributors sorta fit on a speedster anyway.
Have Fun !
Nathan, Found it. 12 V Model T Starter Conversion.
Wether you change to 12 volts or not is up to you. Maintaining originality in a nice unmolested roadster is one thing but a speedster is already a modified/customized vehicle so where should maintaining originality start and stop with it? It's where ever the owner want's it to be. It's your car so do as you wish. I did.
wow! thanks for the info Gary! Ill have to keep this in mind.